Angels’ Joe Blanton is battered around by Royals
The Angels are 10 games out of first place. They have not been so far behind so early in a season since 2001.
That was the year before the World Series, the decade of success, and the transformation into perennial contenders. Not too many fans showed up, and the few who did had little expectation the team would play in October.
In 2001, the Angels filled out their starting rotation by signing Pat Rapp and Ismael Valdes. The veterans would eat some innings, and the Angels would see if their kids could pitch.
This is 2001 all over again, but with a major-market payroll and World Series expectations. The Angels filled out their rotation in part by signing Joe Blanton for two years and $15 million guaranteed to eat some innings.
At this rate, the Angels might have to worry about eating his contract. The Kansas City Royals beat the Angels, 11-4, Monday, pounding Blanton for seven runs and 12 hits in 42/3 innings.
Josh Hamilton had two hits, then left the game after six innings.
Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said Hamilton was “a little lightheaded.”
Said Hamilton: “I was not lightheaded. I’m just sick.”
Hamilton said he has started taking antibiotics for what he suspected was a respiratory infection.
“The equilibrium wasn’t quite where it needed to be,” he said.
Blanton has started eight games; the Angels have lost them all. Never in any of the 53 seasons of the franchise have the Angels lost a pitcher’s first eight starts.
No pitcher in the major leagues has given up more hits. Opponents are batting .359 against him.
He is 0-7 with a 6.46 earned-run average, the first Angel to start 0-7 since Joe Grahe in 1991. The only pitcher with more losses this season, Phil Humber of the Houston Astros, was designated for assignment Sunday.
Scioscia said the Angels are not considering whether to remove Blanton from the rotation.
“I don’t think there are any changes anybody is looking at,” Scioscia said.
Scioscia pointed to Blanton’s previous three starts, all quality starts with a collective 3.48 ERA, as evidence of overall progress.
The Royals collected 19 hits, the most the Angels have given up this season. Billy Butler had five hits and drove in five runs.
The Angels finished the game with a Cactus League feel. Luis Jimenez, who never had played shortstop in the major or minor leagues, was at shortstop. Brendan Harris, who never had played the outfield in a major league career that started in 2004, was in left field.
Blanton said he was pleased with most of his pitches.
“It was one of those weird games,” he said. “Every time they made contact, it was in a hole.”
Blanton said he would not change the approach he has taken over his nine-year career — lots of innings, lots of hits, and a winning record.
“It’s baseball. It’s a messed-up game,” he said. “Sometimes you feel like you’re not throwing the ball well, you know you’re not, and you’re maybe 3-0 in five games. You keep grinding away.”
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